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24th Jul 2016

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Polish MEPs least gay-friendly in EU parliament

  • Van de Camp: 'Family matters, such as same-sex marriage, belong to the realm of [national governments]' (Photo: European Parliament)

Polish members of the European Parliament are - by far - the least gay-friendly in the house, followed by counterparts from Latvia, Lithuania and Italy.

The most friendly are from Denmark, Estonia and Sweden.

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  • Breakdown by nationality (Photo: EUobserver, VoteWatch.eu)

Looking at five different resolutions over the last six-and-a-half years calling in one way or another for the support of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, less than 20 percent of Polish MEPs voted in favour, according to votewatch.eu, a website which tracks MEPs' voting behaviour. The rest either voted against, abstained or did not vote.

For Latvian deputies, the share is 35 percent. For the Lithuanians and the Italians, it is 36 percent.

By contrast, almost nine out of ten 10 Swedish MEPs have voted in favour over the years, as have three out of four Danes and Estonians. On average, more than half of all MEPs have followed their lead.

The five resolutions include three on homophobia in Europe (in 2006, 2007 and 2012), one from 2009 on the situation of fundamental rights in the EU (which makes explicit and repeated mention of the rights of LGBT people) and one from 2011 endorsing a resolution on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity adopted by the UN.

There is also a clear divide on the voting behaviour of political groups.

Left-leaning groups have voted in favour on average almost three times more often than the right (if the Liberals can be counted among the left).

The Greens are the most gay-friendly, voting in favour almost 90 percent of the time.

They are followed closely by the social-democrats, the far-left and the Liberals - in that order. Nationalists are the least friendly, with a score of one out of 10, followed by non-attached members, conservative eurosceptics and centre-right Christian democrats.

The Christian democrats - the biggest group in the house - endorsed the latest anti-homophobia resolution in May. But despite the group line, just 42 percent of its deputies actually voted Yes.

"We have the tradition that family matters, such as same-sex marriage, belong to the realm of [national governments]," Dutch centre-right MEP Wim van de Camp - who is in his own words both a "professed [Roman] Catholic" and a "convinced homosexual" - told this website.

"There isn't much discussion within the group about this subject," he added.

He noted that religious reasons often prevent politicians from the south and east of Europe from accepting sexual minorities.

He suspected - rightly - that his fellow centre-right MEPs from the German and traditionally Catholic region of Bavaria also have voted against the resolution. He was right: out of eight Bavarian deputies, six said No.

One of them is Bernd Posselt, one of Brussels' best-known homo-sceptics.

"So-called gay marriage has absolutely nothing to do with human rights," he told parliament when it debated the resolution. "Every state is free to decide how it defines marriage and family. You can't mix that up with homophobia. I am against homophobia, but also against ideological propaganda."

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